Google just delivered its first-ever flagship smartphone with facial identification and multiple rear cameras with the unveiling of the Pixel 4. With a dual-lens camera system, the ability to recognize air gestures using a new radar sensor and a display with a dynamic 90-Hz refresh rate, the Pixel 4 looks like it has the features to bring the fight to Apple's new trio of iPhones.
Now that Samsung has finally start selling the Galaxy Fold to consumers, all eyes turn to Motorola and Huawei to release their foldable devices before the year's out. Based on what we've heard, it seems like Moto's rebooted Razr actually stands a decent shot of emerging before 2020; unfortunately, it's not looking quite as rosy for the long-delayed Mate X.
Speaking of 2020, details are already emerging about the next flagship for both Samsung and Apple, so smartphone fans have plenty to look forward to even after the Pixel 4 hits stores Oct. 24.
Here’s a peek at new phones in store for 2019 and beyond.
Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL (October 2019)
Thanks to a series of leaks, this month's Pixel 4 launch didn't contain many surprises. But that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to be impressed by with the 5.7-inch Pixel 4 or the 6.3-inch Pixel 4 XL. Both new phones contain a radar sensor that allows you to control select phone features with gestures, and you can now unlock the Pixel 4 with your face.
Google's new phones feature a second camera lens — a 16-MP telephoto camera that joins the 12-MP main lens found on previous Pixels — and Google has also introduced more software-powered improvements for low-light photos and portrait shots. Best of all, the Pixel 4's display features a 90-Hz refresh rate that dynamic adjusts to whatever you're doing with the phone so that you can enjoy smoother scrolling without draining the phone's battery. (Good thing, too, as the batteries aren't that much different from what you got with the Pixel 3.)
Google kept Pixel pricing the same, with the Pixel 4 starting at $799. The phone goes on sale Oct. 24, and you'll find it at all major carriers — another change from the Pixel 3.
Huawei Mate X (Late 2019)
Huawei threw its hat in the foldable phone race with the Mate X, announced all the way back in February at Mobile World Congress 2019. The Mate X features a single display measuring 8 inches from corner-to-corner, that dominates the surface of the device. It also has one quad-lens camera module, rather than the array of rear- and front-facing lenses in Samsung's handset. Oh, and it's 5G ready, too.
However, at €2200, the Mate X's price puts the Galaxy Fold's to shame. Additionally, at the time of writing, it's still unclear when the handset will see the light of day. Google is reportedly barred from licensing its apps and services to Huawei for new devices, though the Mate X was developed before the ban went into effect — so theoretically, it should be spared. Over the summer, executives from the Chinese firm teased the Mate X could see release in September, after more 5G networks go live. However, with Samsung finally shipping the Galaxy Fold, we're now entering October without an update on Huawei's plans, which is more than a little concerning.
Motorola Razr (Late 2019)
Could the iconic Motorola phone be making a comeback? The Wall Street Journal teased as much back in February, reporting that Motorola could reintroduce the Razr as a foldable phone this year. Given that Motorola didn't make a peep about the device during Mobile World Congress, and subsequently squashed all Razr-related rumors around the time of the budget G7 series' launch, we weren't certain when we'd actually see the device in the flesh until a report emerged in late September that the phone was still on track for a 2019 release.
There are few clues we have about the Razr, outside of the Journal's report that the handset would be released in a limited run exclusively on Verizon and cost $1,500. If and when it does break cover, though, the new Razr could offer a less costly path to foldables than Samsung's $1,980 Galaxy Fold.
Galaxy S11 (Early 2019)
It's never too early to start thinking about next year's phones, and we're getting ever closer to the rumored launch date for the next Galaxy S model. (In fact, one rumor even suggests a Feb. 18, 2020 launch date for the new phone.)
What to expect from the Galaxy S11? The rumors aren't quite so clear at this stage, but it seems likely that Samsung will focus on the cameras for this version of its flagship. Specifically, Samsung's rumored to be working on a 108-MP camera as the main shooter for the Galaxy S11. The new phone could also add a spectrometer, which would let you point the camera at food to determine its nutritional content, among other features.
Microsoft Surface Duo (Holiday 2020)
No, you didn't fall haplessly into a time machine that's sent you five years into the past — Microsoft is actually making a Surface phone. And not just any phone; one that has two screens and runs Android. The Surface Duo, revealed a year before its holiday 2020 launch, features a pair of Gorilla Glass-covered 5.6-inch displays joined by a hinge down the middle. It's not truly a foldable, in that the screens themselves don't bend. Rather, they can rotate 360 degrees, so you can use the device in several different orientations.
Like other Android flagships, the Surface Duo is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 processor, according to Wired — though Microsoft was quick to point out that it doesn't see the device strictly as a phone. Still, the 855 will be outdated by the time the device eventually launches, which also raises the question of whether or not the Surface Duo will support 5G. Microsoft made no mention of it during the unveiling, but if other late 2020 flagships support next-gen networks, the company's first phone in years will look mighty outdated if it doesn't as well. (And that's to say nothing of the phone's ginormous bezels.)
Still, there's lots of time for Microsoft to refine and improve the Surface Duo's design before it hits the market alongside the larger Surface Neo tablet. What we're seeing now is clearly an early look — though it's still certainly piqued our interest.
iPhone 12 (Fall 2020)
Yes, the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and Pro Max just came out, and yes, there are already rumors beginning to break about the iPhone 12 due out next year. In fact, reports surrounding Apple's next-generation handsets started to make headlines before Cupertino's latest reveal. Such is the news cycle around devices planned years in advance.
So what should you look forward to around this time 12 months from now? For one, an all-new design that finally sheds the iPhone X shape that has defined Apple's handsets for past three years. According to leakster Ben Geskin, one of the models will even ditch the notch entirely, embedding Apple's TrueDepth camera system right into the narrow top bezel. Furthermore, there's a good chance that the range-topping 2020 iPhone will support 5G. After all, there's growing evidence to suggest many iPhone owners that held off upgrading to the 11 series did so because of a lack of support for next-generation wireless networks.
While Apple's next iPhones are a year away at this point, we should only have to wait until the spring before we begin to have a pretty clear idea of what the company is planning, if history is any indication.
iPhone SE 2 (Early 2020)
You may not have to wait until next fall for a new iPhone. Rumors about the iPhone SE 2 are beginning to pick up again, as people pine for a successor to Apple's compact, inexpensive iPhone.
The latest rumor suggests the iPhone SE 2 won't be as small as its predecessor, with a 4.7-inch screen that's reminiscent of the iPhone 8. But the new phone would be plenty powerful, reportedly running on the same A13 Bionic chip found inside the iPhone 11 family. We could find out soon enough if the iPhone SE 2 is a reality — respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks the phone will ship in the first three months of 2020.
Essential Project Gem (2020)
More than two years since it launched its first smartphone, Essential is following up with a successor. Code named Project Gem, the handset will sport a radically narrow and tall form factor with a unique interface that makes the most out of those unconventional proportions. The operating system hasn't been confirmed, though we bet it will be a heavily customized version of Android.
There appears to be a hole punch-style front-facing camera inside the screen, and the backside looks very interesting. Essential is experimenting with color-shifting, shimmering materials and hues for this device, judging from development images shared to Twitter by CEO Andy Rubin. There's a very pronounced camera bump on the back, as well as a fingerprint sensor that may not actually be used for authentication, according to leaked code published by XDA Developers in September. It's possible this sensor will be used to activate the phone's voice assistant, which Essential is reportedly putting a lot of weight behind. In fact, rumors suggest the company expects users to navigate the device primarily through commands, rather than swiping and tapping.
We're unsure when Project Gem will reach consumers, though the timing of Rubin's posts convinces us we will hear more early next year.
Samsung square foldable (2020)
You have to give Samsung a little credit for persistence. The company only recently overcame the setbacks it faced with the release of its first foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, and it's apparently already preparing another, with a totally unique form factor.
According to Bloomberg, Samsung is preparing a smaller version of the Fold with a 6.7-inch display that closes into a square, to take on Motorola's long-rumored Razr reboot. The device would carry two cameras on the outside along with another inside, and Samsung is reportedly experimenting with a new type of protective glass that is only 3% of the thickness of Gorilla Glass to be able to achieve the handset's durability and flexibility objectives.
Still, don't hold your breath — Samsung is reportedly evaluating the Fold's performance in the market before fully giving this unannounced foldable the green light. And even if it does see release, it definitely won't happen until 2020.